The Indie Game Magazine GOTY Awards 2013

2013 is drawing to a close, and you just can’t end a year without a list or countdown of some sort, right? Still, if ever there was a justification for clickbait with which to draw in new readers and provoke discussion, I think we can all agree that a Game of the Year feature is the way to go. With so many amazing games to choose from, it’s nearly impossible to whittle down a short list of those who deserve praise. That being said, IGM decided to whittle down a short list of those who deserve praise. Take a look at this year’s award winners for the Indie Game Magazine GOTY Awards 2013:


Best Story of the Year:

And The Award Goes To…

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Starbreeze Studios) – Brothers is a game that manages to be both charmingly whimsical and heartbreakingly depressing. Featuring a pair of protagonists who never utter a word of understandable language, the team at Starbreeze impressively infused both brothers with distinctive and relatable personalities that were easy to get attached to. With so much story to tell, it’s easy to forget that everything the player learns is inferred through actions and visual presentation. Dialogue be damned, Brothers doesn’t simply manage, but flourishes at telling an unforgettable story that evokes genuine emotion – a feat worthy of praise.


Best Gameplay of the Year:

And the Award Goes To…

Volgarr the Viking (Crazy Viking Studios) – Those of us who have been core gamers since the NES days often feel that this generation has lost their edge thanks to the hand-holding of so many games from start to finish. With the advent of gameplay crutches like tutorials, health regeneration, Detective Mode (seriously?), and excessive hints, it’s no wonder the internet latched onto a phrase like Rage Quit and ran with it. Harkening back to the days where games kicked your butt until you became an Angry Video Game Nerd, Volgarr the Viking retains the brutal difficulty of classic NES-era action games while giving those old-school graphics an HD update. For anyone feeling like they’ve gone soft, and all who crave the gaming gauntlets of yesteryear, Volgarr the Viking wants to challenge and refine your skill.


Best Graphics of the Year:

And the Award Goes To…

Star Conflict (Star Gem Inc.) – While many indie games take the budget-friendly approach of rekindling the nostalgia for 16-bit era classics, others strive to rival the aesthetics of their AAA competition. Few succeed, which is what makes Star Conflict stand out in the bunch. For a game that takes place out in the vast nothingness of space, Star Conflict is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The array of customizable ships to choose from feature an astonishing amount of detail, and the vistas are often distractingly spectacular. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to start a conflict amongst the stars when their time would be more wisely spent appreciating the view.


Best Sound of the Year:

And the Award Goes To…

Terraria (Re-Logic) – While many would consider gameplay and story to be the two most important elements of game development, it would be a fatal mistake to discount the importance of sound design. In fact, a soundtrack can make-or-break the experience; and while a good soundtrack will often go unnoticed, a great soundtrack can transport players deeper into the world of a game and complete that coveted sense of immersion. To say the soundtrack of Terraria is merely great is to do composer Scott Lloyd Shelly of Resonance Array an insulting disservice. Each track is more incredible than the last, and none sound derivative of one another. You can, and should, purchase the full digital album here.


IGM Mobile Game of the Year 2013:

And the Award Goes To…

Ridiculous Fishing (Vlambeer) – It takes a pretty creative (insane?) mind to come up with a way to make fishing fun, but if there is some secret competition between developers to make the “sport” the best it can be, Vlambeer blew everyone else out of the water this year with Ridiculous Fishing. This tale of redemption turns the fine art of mutilating aquatic creatures into a triple-layered mini game that is equal parts fun, amusing, and, true to its namesake, ridiculous. How anyone is supposed to take a quiet trip out onto the lake after a few rounds of Ridiculous Fishing and still enjoy themselves is frankly beyond me.


IGM Game of the Year 2013:

And the Award Goes To…

Risk of Rain (Hopoo Games) – If one game had the entire package this year, it was Risk of Rain. Hopoo Games dazzled and delighted gamers by offering a unique take on the “action platformer with roguelike elements” sub-genre that has exploded across the indie scene over the past couple years. Most notable is their unique gameplay mechanic which forces players to choose between exploring the game’s diverse stages, and making it out alive before the ever-increasing difficulty slider scales too far in favor of the enemies. Risk of Rain‘s design includes everything it needs to: Multiple class-types and upgrades to unlock amongst a variety of items to discover, 4-player local and online co-op, a wonderful soundtrack, retro-infused visuals, and satisfying gameplay. Congratulations, Risk of Rain, you are Indie Game Magazine’s 2013 Game of the Year!


Honorable Mentions:

As is always the case, there are games that unfortunately didn’t make the list, but are undeniably worthy of praise and merit your attention. The Honorable Mentions section is here for exactly that purpose. The list includes games that may have come up just short in one area or another, but are nonetheless deserving of recognition. With that in mind, take a look at this year’s Honorable Mentions:

– Cook, Serve, Delicious! (Vertigo Gaming)

– Don’t Starve (Klei Entertainment)

– Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

– Gunpoint (Suspicious Developments)

– The Novelist (Orthogonal Games)


Honorable Mentions – Early Access:

With all the amazing pre-release builds of games that are available thanks in part to the success of the Steam Greenlight program, IGM decided it was time to introduce a new category to our GOTY feature. Early Access recognition goes to the games that aren’t quite ready for full release, but have already shown signs of greatness. If nothing else, this category is full of titles to keep an eye out for as development progresses. Here are the choices for IGM’s inaugural Honorable Mentions – Early Access:

– Assault Android Cactus (Witch Beam)

– Kerbal Space Program (Squad)

– Sir, You are Being Hunted (Big Robot)

– SpyParty (Chris Hecker)

– Starbound (Chucklefish)


Well, there you have it. The Winners of the Indie Game Magazine GOTY Awards 2013. Feel free to yell and shout about how Gone Home didn’t win any awards in the comments section, and prove me wrong by making your own GOTY list in the forums. Or, perhaps as a New Year’s resolution of sorts, maybe we could all just have a civil discussion explaining the games we personally loved this year, and how they make the top of our own personal GOTY lists? Ha! Can you imagine? Anyway, we look forward to showing off a ton of amazing new stuff in 2014 – have you noticed the new redesign? Pretty schway, McGinnis –  so you’ll want to stay tuned to IGM and keep track of our announcements on all the usual social networks. Happy New Year!


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